There once was a time when Ole Miss dominated the South. From 1959-63, the Rebels were ranked as a top-10 team in 44 consecutive games* and won three Sugar Bowl trophies.
(*For reference: Nick Saban’s current streak is 19 heading into the weekend, and his career long is 57 between 2011-15.)
Led by legendary coach John Vaught, Mississippi peaked in ’62, then slowly declined over the next decade. Vaught left his post in 1970 after suffering a mild heart attack, returned in ’73 for a partial season and then rode off into the Oxford sunset.
The Rebels waited 39 years to climb back into the top 10 (a three-week stint in 2009), and have played a total of 10 games with that designation since Hugh Freeze took over in 2012.
Quarterback Chad Kelly, who suffered a serious knee injury this past weekend and will likely never play another game for Ole Miss, has been an important part of that success. In roughly one-and-a-half seasons, he started 20 games during which Ole Miss was ranked in the Top 25, the highest of any Rebels quarterback since Vaught retired and celebrated quarterback Archie Manning headed to the NFL in the spring of 1971.
|QB||Years||# of games|
|1. Chad Kelly||2015-2016||20|
|2. Bo Wallace||2013-2014||17|
|3. Jevan Snead||2008-2009||9|
|4. Russ Shows||1989-1992||8|
|t5. Romaro Miller||1997-2000||7|
|t5. Eli Manning||2000-2003||7|
|7. Norris Weese||1969-1972||6|
Freeze put several All-SEC athletes around Kelly, but the quarterback also recorded some of the most impressive numbers in school history:
- He headlines the list of Ole Miss quarterbacks who have thrown for at least 300 yards and 3 touchdowns in a single game, doing so eight times in 22 games (Bo Wallace had four in 39 games and Eli Manning had six in 43 games.).
- He’ll finish third behind Eli Manning and Wallace on Ole Miss’ all-time passing list with 6,800 yards but outpaced both of them by nearly 100 yards in passing yards per game.
- Last year, he set the school’s single-season records for most total yards (4,542), yards per play (8.04), completions (298), completion percentage (65.1) and passer rating (155.8). He had 41 total touchdowns … nine more than the next person on the list (Eli Manning, 2003).
In short, Kelly is Ole Miss’ best quarterback since Archie Manning left campus, and while he did not deliver a College Football Playoff berth, he did orchestrate a Sugar Bowl win (the Rebels’ first in a “major” postseason game — New Year’s Six, BCS or old-era New Year’s Day games — since the 1970 season) and Mississippi’s first road win against Alabama since 1988.
Kelly’s stay in Oxford was brief (and his off-field record a tad checkered), but he is deserving of a long round of applause for what he accomplished at Ole Miss.